Frack off, Cameron

Back in May this year, Ed Davey revealed to Parliament there had been a discussion at Number 10 with ‘experts in the shale gas industry’ concerning shale gas in the UK.

What was interesting about this, as Andrew Montford at the Bishop Hill blog pointed out, was that these experts apparently told David Cameron and other assembled stuffed shirts that it would take some time to exploit shale gas – and that ‘strong regulation’ would be required.  It was certainly a strange sentiment coming from people in the industry, who presumably would want to push ahead quickly to exploit shale, and do so with minimal constraints.

As Montford speculated at the end of his post, ‘I wonder who Number Ten’s experts were?’  I wondered the same thing, which is why I submitted the Freedom of Information request shown below:

Now bearing in mind in April this year, none other than the Cabinet Office (the department that would field my request) Minister Francis Maude wrote in the Guardian (where else?) the claims below, one would expect that openness and transparency to be readily on display:

Since coming to office, the coalition has made great strides towards David Cameron’s commitment that the United Kingdom would be the most open and transparent government in the world. We have already brought a new openness to all areas of government, radically challenging the damaging idea that public data is owned by the state, not the citizen.

- Francis Maude, The Guardian, 19 April 2012

But of course, when it comes to politics we are in the Post-Truth Age.  Anything goes in this ideologically bankrupt administration, so long as it and its friends benefit.  Which is why more than two months after submitting my request – without explanation for the failure to comply with the terms of the Freedom of Information Act, or apology for the delay and failure to respond to my follow up queries – I received the following:

The suspicion is that the government is – as it so often does – only listening to opinions that reinforce its viewpoint and agenda.  It stretches the bounds of credulity that even if the likely reserves of shale are not as extensive as some might suggest, representatives of the shale gas industry would seek to hinder their effort to exploit shale and actually demand significant government action to restrict the extraction of shale.

The rhetorical question is, in whose interest is this government working?  It’s certainly not ours.

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12 Responses to “Frack off, Cameron”


  1. 1 Brian H 20/07/2012 at 7:32 pm

    Obviously you should have enclosed a £100 note.

  2. 2 Joe Public 20/07/2012 at 7:48 pm

    Maybe you asked too many questions in the single request, any one of which, could give them the excuse to provide nothing?

    “Little and Often” can sometimes force them to produce the desired result for most but not all of your requests.

  3. 3 martinbrumby 20/07/2012 at 8:52 pm

    It may be that some answers (and some more questions!) can be found by poking round on the excellent NoHotAir blog.

    http://www.nohotair.co.uk/gas-guru-blog/shale-gas-2012/2523-cuadrilla-not-invited-to-downing-street-briefing

    Nick Grealy hasn’t seen the light about the greenies and “climate change”, unfortunately. But at least he seems very well informed about Shale Gas.

    I particularly like the passage in the FOI team Cabinet Office’s response:-

    “Disclosure would weaken Ministers’ ability to discuss controversial and sensitive topics free from premature public scrutiny leading to worse informed and poorer decision making.”

    “worse informed and poorer decision making.”?????????

    They’re kidding!!

    How will that work?

    I presume they are taking the piss.

  4. 4 Autonomous Mind 20/07/2012 at 10:20 pm

    Thanks for that Martin. I spoke to Cuadrilla earlier today and asked for confirmation of whether or not they were invited and if they wished to make a statement. I could have saved myself the bother.

  5. 5 TomO 21/07/2012 at 6:51 am

    It’s interesting to note that significant funding is being poured into anti fracking by the Russkies…. Gazprom are funding western European anti fracking movements, no doubt Nord Stream won’t be far behind – watch out for Gerhardt Schroeder and other paid for Euro goons coming to TV and media outlets soon.

    In all – an execrable performance by our “leaders” – no doubt more to follow.

  6. 6 Matt C 21/07/2012 at 9:09 am

    Martinbrumby is right, it was a meeting of gas companies, and Cuadrilla weren’t invited, it was Booker, or Delingpole who mentioned it, I think…

  7. 7 james higham 21/07/2012 at 12:55 pm

    Well done, AM – that’s a fine effort to go that far.

  8. 8 Cassio 22/07/2012 at 9:16 am

    From my experience of FOI it would be worthwhile to ask for an internal review, and then – almost inevitably – appeal to the Information Commissioner. Questions 2 and 4.1 would seem the most difficult nuts to crack under s.35, but the others seems not to fall within the formulation of policy and communications between ministers.

  9. 9 cuffleyburgers 24/07/2012 at 11:36 am

    “…poorer decision making blah blah” – seems rather unlikely that this is possible.

  10. 10 Lynne 30/07/2012 at 12:13 pm

    I blogged about this very subject back in May, AM

    http://www.countingcats.com/?p=12363

    It seems that no one from the pro-shale gas camp was present at the meeting. Perhaps the invitations were lost in the post?


  1. 1 Cameron helps bring us together | Orphans of Liberty Trackback on 07/10/2012 at 7:05 am
  2. 2 Fracking ‘eck! Is shale gas about to take off in the UK? « Autonomous Mind Trackback on 30/11/2012 at 11:53 pm
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